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Sterile Processing

Student sterilizing equipment

Department: Sterile Processing and Distribution

Program Type: Health Professions

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Prepare to become a vital asset to patient care as a Sterile Processing and Distribution Technician. At Elgin Community College, the Sterile Processing and Distribution course (SGT 100) prepares students to perform Central Service departmental work in a hospital. You'll learn critical skills through classroom didactic, on-campus lab sessions, and clinical site training. ECC's Sterile Processing and Distribution graduates can obtain immediate employment in hospitals and surgery centers throughout the region. Graduates are also eligible to receive professional certification, which most medical facilities prefer.

Prepare for Immediate Employment

As the number of surgical procedures increases, so does the demand for sterile processing and distribution services. This means that there will be a growing need for qualified Sterile Processing Technicians who can ensure that surgical instruments and equipment are properly cleaned, sterilized, and packaged for use.

Sterile Processing Technicians who hold a certification from a recognized organization such as the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD) or the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM) may have better job prospects and earn higher salaries.

The future job outlook for Sterile Processing and Distribution technicians is very positive, with strong demand and good salary potential. Earning a certification in sterile processing and distribution can also improve job prospects and earning potential for those in the field.

Plan of Study and Course Descriptions

Review the ECC catalog for details about the sterile processing and distribution plan of study and course descriptions.

Basic Vocational Certificate

Program Approval

Earn an industry-recognized credential that local employers highly value. Successful course completion and other requirements offer eligibility to take the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM) Provisional Examination and the Certification Board of Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD) Sterile Processing and Distribution Technician Certification Examination.

Course Information

The SPD course is a one-semester 5-credit Basic Vocational Certificate program consisting of classroom and on-campus lab time. The course also includes clinical hours where you can get hands-on experience at a local healthcare facility under the supervision of hospital staff, ECC instructors, and the program director. After registering for SGT 100, the ECC Health Professions office will email you about these requirements.

The SPD course covers cleaning, disinfecting, decontamination, inspection, tray assembly, sterilization, and distribution of surgical instruments, equipment, and supplies. The responsibilities of the Central Service Technician are paramount to quality patient care and patient outcomes.

How do I apply for Admission to the Sterile Processing and Distribution Program?

SGT-100 Sterile Processing and Distribution Admission Requirements

  • Proof of high school diploma or high school equivalency and one of the following within the last five years:
    • ECC Reading Placement Score of 95 or higher
    • ACT Reading Score of 19 or higher
    • SAT/PSAT Reading Score of 480 or higher
    • High School GPA of 3.0 or higher (unweighted, based on at least 6 semesters excluding summer)
    • Grade of C or better in RDG 091 or LTC 099
    • Grade of C or better in HPE 112

All students who register for SGT 100 must attend an information session and/or meet with the program director before the start of the actual ECC semester to learn strategies to succeed in the program.

The state of Illinois requires Health Professions students to have a social security number for a required background check at the start of the program. Students will also need to complete several other requirements, such as a drug test, providing current proof of immunizations, and a medical form to be able to attend class and clinical. 

What's the difference between a Central Service Tech and a Sterile Processing Tech?

The quick answer is...there is no difference. There are many names used to describe the duties and responsibilities of sterile processing, such as Central Sterile Service, Central Service, Central Processing Service, and even Medical Supply Services or Surgical Instrument Services. The International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM) and the Certification Board of Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD) recognize these titles. They offer many types of certification testing options. Central Service technicians are in high demand in the Northern Illinois region, and the hospital facilities regularly contact ECC with job opportunities.

What do Sterile Processing Technicians do?

  • Operates sterilization equipment and inspects instruments, equipment, and containers to ensure cleanliness and proper functioning.
  • Clean, disinfect, and sterilize surgical instruments and trays for hospital departments. 
  • Responsible for the decontamination, processing, sterilization, and store procedure trays according to prescribed procedures.

Did you know that Sterile Processing and Distribution is part of the ICAPS program?

The Integrated Career & Academic Preparation System (ICAPS) enables students to earn a certificate while working to earn a high school equivalency or improve English language skills, reading, or math.

Learn more about the ICAPS support program.

How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician?

To become a Sterile Processing Technician, one typically needs to complete a high school diploma or equivalent. After that, there are several pathways to enter the field. Some employers may hire individuals with no prior experience and provide on-the-job training, while others may require a certificate or degree from an accredited program.

For a Sterile Processing certification community colleges, vocational schools, and technical institutes offer certificate or diploma programs in sterile processing and distribution. These programs typically take 6 to 12 months to complete and cover topics such as microbiology, infection control, and medical terminology.

To become a Sterile Processing Technician, one typically needs a high school diploma or equivalent and may need to complete a certificate or diploma program. Earning certification through a recognized organization can improve job prospects and earning potential.

How much do Sterile Processing Technicians make?

Sterile Processing Technicians play a critical role in ensuring that medical equipment and instruments are properly sanitized and ready for use in patient care. Sterile Processing Technician salary can vary depending on factors such as experience, education, and location.

Having a sterile processing technician certification can also impact a technician's earning potential. Certification demonstrates a technician's knowledge and competence in the field, which can make them more attractive to employers and lead to higher salaries. In addition to certification, continuing education and training can also lead to increased earning potential for Sterile Processing Technicians.

What does a Sterile Processing Technician do?

A Sterile Processing Technician plays a vital role in ensuring the safety of patients and healthcare professionals by properly sterilizing and preparing medical equipment, instruments, and supplies. These technicians work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, and surgical centers.

The responsibilities of a Sterile Processing Technician include inspecting, cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing medical equipment and instruments using various methods, such as steam sterilization and chemical disinfection. They also assemble, package, and distribute equipment and instruments to the appropriate departments. Sterile Processing Technicians must follow strict protocols and regulations to ensure that all equipment and instruments are properly sterilized and safe for use.

To become a Sterile Processing Technician, individuals can obtain sterile processing technician certification, which demonstrates their knowledge and skills in the field. Certification programs typically involve coursework, hands-on training, and passing an exam. Continuing education and training are also necessary to maintain certification and stay up-to-date on the latest sterilization techniques and regulations.

Learn more about the Sterile Processing Technician department at ECC!

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